The Japanese Automobile Manufacturers’ Association promotes these ten simple tips for saving fuel when you’re driving.Ten tips too hard? Don’t worry. To get the gist of “eco-driving”, just remember:
1. Accelerate gently
Forget ‘pedal to the metal’: slow and relaxed acceleration (to 20 km/h in five seconds) boosts fuel efficiency by 10%.
Plus, it’s more dignified. Burning off at the lights makes you look like you’re 18 (but not in a good way).
Maintain a steady speed and keep your distance.
Tailgating isn’t just dangerous and annoying – it also makes you accelerate and decelerate unnecessarily, which decreases your fuel efficiency.
Stay a few seconds back. It’s easier to keep a steady speed, and you won’t look so much like an overstressed hamster.
Slow down by releasing the accelerator (easy on the brakes!)
Scan ahead to see when you’ll need to slow down (e.g. at traffic lights) and release the accelerator – this stops the fuel supply and ups your fuel efficiency by 2%.
Slamming on the brakes should be strictly for emergencies.
Chill out when using the AC
Do you automatically switch the aircon on as soon as you get in the car? If it’s 25°C outside and you run the air conditioning at 25°C, your fuel efficiency will drop by 12% for no benefit.
Set it at a reasonable temperature, and only when you need to cool the air below the outside temperature.
Don’t warm up or idle your engine
Letting the engine run when you’re not driving is a waste of fuel.
Today’s passenger cars don’t need warming up unless it’s below -20°C (i.e. never, in Australia). Start off slowly as soon as you’ve switched the car on.
If you need to set your GPS or set up your hands-free set before you leave, sort yourself out before you turn the key.
When you’re waiting or loading/unloading, turn the engine off rather than letting it idle. It saves fuel, and avoids choking everyone outside with your car exhaust.
(Note: don’t do this while you’re on the road, unless the car is fitted with an idling-prevention system. It turns off safety features like airbags).
Plan your itinerary and avoid traffic congestion
Work out the most direct route to your destination using your map book or GPS before you set out.
Sounds simple, but how often do you do it? Even if you think you know the quickest way, check your route on your GPS or Google maps – you might be surprised.
Keep your tyres pumped up
Ever ridden a bike with soft tyres? You’ll know how your car feels. Check tyre pressure regularly and keep it above 50kPa to keep things rolling smoothly. You can improve your fuel efficiency by up to 4%.
While you’re at it, make sure you check and replace engine oil, oil filters and air cleaner elements to avoid fuel drain.
Don’t carry dead weight
One of the great things about car sharing is that you don’t use the boot as a storage cupboard.
Carrying an unnecessary 100 kilos causes a 3% loss in fuel efficiency. If it doesn’t need to be in the car, take it out. (This doesn’t include yo mama).
You can also improve your car’s aerodynamics by taking off exterior racks when they’re not in use.
This one’s a little more abstract: they say that if you park in the wrong spot and cause a traffic obstruction, you’ll increase traffic congestion and therefore pollution.
You’re also likely to get fined, which is probably more of a direct incentive to read the parking signs.
Watch and learn: read the gauges
Some of the more modern cars are fitted with onboard equipment that monitors fuel efficiency.
If you’re driving one of these cars, keep an eye on the information and see how your driving behaviour and traffic conditions affect fuel consumption. (Warning: if you’re the competitive type, this can get a bit obsessive).
How many of these do you do as a habit? Share this post to spread the word on greener, safer driving.